After eight seasons, two NJCAA Tournament appearances and one Region VI title, Butler Community College men’s basketball coach Mike Bargen put himself in a good spot to take his career to the next level.
He made that move this week, to Bradley, where he’ll be an assistant coach under Brian Wardle, who played with Bargen at Marquette in the late 1990s.
"This was a tremendous opportunity for myself and for my family," Bargen said. "I can’t say enough great things about the place we’re going or the experience I’ve had so far.
"The relationship with (Wardle) goes back almost 20 years, so that was important. But I think the experience I have and the success we’ve had at Butler was just as important."
Bargen told his team on Monday night in El Dorado and signed his contract in Peoria on Wednesday. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Butler before taking over for Randy Smithson.
"There was a lot of emotion in the room," Bargen said. "And I understand that. It wasn’t just hard to say good-bye to my team, it was also hard to say goodbye to people I’d built relationships with on campus for the last 11 years."
Bargen, who played at Marquette from 1995-99, led the Grizzlies to a 29-4 record, the Jayhawk West title and an NJCAA berth last season. Butler won the Region VI title under Bargen in 2010, its first since 1996.
His wife, Kacy, and their three young children, John, Olivia and Maddox were already planning a move to Illinois.
"(Kacy) was behind me 100 percent, and that made all the difference," Bargen said. "She was involved in this with me the whole way and having her wanting the best for me, wanting the best for our family was the most important thing.
"She sent me a picture of the two younger kids today after they packed a couple of backpacks with their toys and told her they were ready to move to Illinois with daddy."